Tuesday, November 1, 2011

40th Annual Naha Tsunahiki (Tug-of-War)

This year we attended the annual Tug-of-War festival in Naha.  This event has been in the Guinness Book of World Records.  

This is an excerpt from wikipedia.
The festival begins with men dressed in traditional Okinawan garb standing on the rope facing in opposite directions to symbolize the battle between East and West. A myriad of performances take place along the rope's length, from martial artists of varying ages, to older women performing a sort of fan-dance. It is a international event with Japanese nationals, American military, and tourists in attendance. Just before the start of the match a man dressed in the garb of the Ryūkyūan kings stands on a wooden platform hoisted in the air on the shoulders of men standing on opposite sides of the rope. The "king" is carried on this platform down the length of the rope, before the festival starts, and the two kings perform a ritual sword contest.
The main rope, over one meter in diameter, has many smaller diameter, but very long ropes extending from it, and the participants pull these during the contest. The contest lasts 30 minutes and the challenge is to pull the other team a total of 15 meters. If neither side pulls the other the 15 meters, whichever side has pulled the other the furthest wins.
After the 30 minute time limit expires, one side is declared the victors, and they are allowed to climb on top of their rope to celebrate. It is customary for participants to cut apart the rope, and take a length of it as a token, and so throngs of people using tools ranging from their pocket knives, scissors and hacksaws set on the rope cutting lengths of it to commemorate the festival.

Before the Tug-of-War starts there is a parade.

There are several of these large "flags".  They bounce them to the music as they move down the street during the parade.  The other sticks are there to help pick up the "flag" and to keep it upright.  Each "flag" has a different top.  

In the events of NAHA GIANT TAG-OF-WAR, there are many unique and traditional events- finger whistle, firecracker, gong, drum, preparation and Karate‐show. Before the tag-of-war, parade of 14 flags is held by many young men wearing the black special uniform named Mumunuchihanta. This parade is called Ufunnasunei. There are 14 committees in the conservation society, but each of them has one or two flags. These flags are symbols and good-luck charms of the areas, which they live.  It is very difficult to walk and hold the flags. So the young men are very proud of attending the parade and holding the flags. (Source)

Some children performing in the parade.

This is how you have fireworks in a parade.  They light them and toss them in this little box.  I want one.

After the parade and before the tug-of-war started we checked out a local meat market.  This was interesting.  Pork is important here on the island.

This picture gives you an idea of how large around the rope is.

The boys getting ready to help pull.

The drummers help the participants pull the rope to a rhythm.  Charlotte and her friend are getting a chance to help.

I took this picture so you could see how crowded it is.  I was really nervous that Grahm was going to get trampled.  The blonde head in the middle.

Before the Tug-of-War begins they have a re-enactment fight between the Ryukyu East and West rulers.

They pulled for 30 minutes.  It was hot and crowded pulling and Jason will never do it again.  After the contest is over then everyone gets a pieces of the rope.  It is good luck that lasts all year.  It was a tie this year.

1 comment:

Katie said...

How neat! And thanks for the b-day wishes... I don't care when I get them:)